HEN618b Ecological Economics and Energy Studies

Faculty of Social Studies
Spring 2014
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 4 credit(s). Type of Completion: z (credit).
Mgr. Christian Kerschner, M.Sc., Dr. (lecturer), RNDr. Naděžda Johanisová, Ph.D. (deputy)
Mgr. Eva Fraňková, Ph.D. (assistant)
Mgr. Ivan Prouza (assistant)
Guaranteed by
doc. Mgr. Bohuslav Binka, Ph.D.
Department of Environmental Studies - Faculty of Social Studies
Contact Person: Mgr. Zdeňka Lechnerová
Supplier department: Department of Environmental Studies - Faculty of Social Studies
Mon 18:45–20:15 U36
Overview This course is design for students interested in learning about non-orthodox economic approaches to environmental problems and energy issues. The main readings are based (1) around the first two volumes of the four volume collection: Spash, C.L., 2009. Ecological Economics: Critical Concepts in the Environment, 4 Volumes, Routledge Major Work. Routledge, London. (2) on the theories and approaches from energy analysts, in particular Robert Ayres, H.D. Odum and Charles Hall.
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 20 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 0/20, only registered: 0/20, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/20
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
there are 6 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
Learning Aims • To understand key issues confronting economic analysis of the environment • To give those unfamiliar with ecological economics sufficient knowledge of the subject to allow them to intelligently discuss and debate current controversies • To develop a basic understanding of theories in energy analysis. • To be able to deconstruct common misunderstandings about energy issues.
  • Course Topic Outline 1. Introductory Lecture 2. The Development of Ecological Economics 3. Ecological Economics and Heterodox Thought in Economics 4. Connecting Economics with Biology and Ecology 5. Complexity and Post Normal Science 6. Thermodynamics, Entropy and Economics 7. Energy Studies & Systems Perspective. 8. Peak-Oil and other resource Peaks 9. From Steady-State to Degrowth Economics 10. Economic Growth and Co-evolutionary Development 11. Happiness and Well-Being 12. The Consumer Society 13. Student led debate
    recommended literature
  • Kapp, K.W., 1978. The Social Costs of Cutthroat Competition, Planned Obsolesence and Sales Promotion, in: Kapp, K.W. (Ed.), The Social Costs of Business Enterprise, 3rd edition, 3rd ed. Spokesman, Nottingham, pp. 224-247.
  • Easterlin, R.A., 2003. Explaining happiness. PNAS 100, 11176-11183.
  • Kerschner, C., forthcoming. Peak-Oil, in: D’Alisa, G., Demaria, F., Kallis, G. (Eds.), Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Paradigm. Routledge.
  • Murphy, D.J., Hall, C.A.S., 2011. Energy return on investment, peak oil, and the end of economic growth. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1219, 52–72.
  • Ulgiati, S., Odum, H.T., Bastianoni, S. (1994): “Emergy use, environmental loading and sustainability an emergy analysis of Italy”, Ecological Modelling, Vol. 73 (3-4): 215-268
  • Lee, F. (2009), A History of Heterodox Economics: Challenging the Mainstream in the Twentieth Century, Routledge, London. Chapter 1.
  • Kapp, K.W., 1978. Towards a New Science of Political Economy, The Social Costs of Business Enterprise, 3rd edition, 3rd ed. Spokesman, Nottingham, pp. 281-301. [CLS vol.1 chap.3]
  • Martinez-Alier, J., 2002. Ecological economics: Taking nature into account, in: Martinez-Alier, J. (Ed.), The Environmentalism of the Poor: A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp. 16-38. [CLS vol.1 chap.1]
  • Kallis, G., Norgaard, R.B., 2010. Coevolutionary ecological economics. Ecol. Econ. 69, 690-699.
  • Røpke, I., 1999. The dynamics of willingness to consume. Ecological Economics 28, 399-420.
  • Boulding, K.E., 1966. The economics of the coming Spaceship Earth, in: Jarrett, H. (Ed.), Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, pp. 3-14.
  • van den Bergh, J., 2011. Environment versus growth: A criticism of "degrowth" and a plea for "a-growth". Ecol. Econ. 70, 881-890.
  • Gowdy, J.M., Erickson, J.D., 2005. The approach of ecological economics. Cambridge Journal of Economics 29, 207-222. [CLS Chap.10]
  • Common, M.S., 1988. 'Poverty and Progress' Revisited, in: Collard, D., Pearce, D., Ulph, D. (Eds.), Economics, Growth and Sustainable Environments. Macmillan, London, pp. 15-39. [CLS Chapter 26]
  • Veblen, T.B., 1898. Why economics is not an evolutionary science? The Quarterly Journal of Economics 12, 373-397.
  • Ayres, R.U., Ayres, L.W., Warr, B. (2002): ”Exergy, power and work in the US economy, 1900-1998”, Energy, Vol. 28 (3): 219-272.
  • Røpke, I., 2004. The early history of modern ecological economics. Ecological Economics 50, 293-314.
  • Funtowicz, S O, Ravetz, J.R., 1994. Uncertainty, complexity and post-normal science. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 13, 1881–1885.
  • Georgescu-Roegen, N., 1979. Methods in economic science. Journal of Economic Issues XIII. [CLS vol.1 chap.4]
  • Galbraith, J.K., 1979. The revised sequence, in: Galbraith, J.K. (Ed.), The New Industrial State. Penguin, Middlesex, England, pp. 213-220.
  • Campbell, C., Laherrere, J., 1998. The end of cheap oil. Scientific American 78–84.
  • Spash, C.L., 1999. The development of environmental thinking in economics. Environmental Values 8 no.4, 413-435. [CLS vol.1 chap.2]
  • Norgaard, R.B., 1987. Economics as mechanics and the demise of biological diversity. Ecological Modelling 38, 107-121. [CLS vol.1 chap.5]
  • Kerschner, C., Prell, C., Feng, K., Hubacek, K., 2013. Economic vulnerability to Peak Oil. Global Environmental Change 23, 1424–1433. (introduction only)
  • Kerschner, C., 2010. Economic de-growth vs. steady-state economy. Journal of Cleaner Production 18, 544-551.
  • Kallis, G., 2011. In defence of degrowth. Ecol. Econ. 70, 873-880.
  • O'Neill, J.F., 2006. Citizenship, well-being and sustainability: Epicurus or Aristotle? Analyse & Kritik 28, 158-172.
  • Funtowicz, S. O., Ravetz, J.R., 1994. The worth of a songbird: Ecological economics as a post-normal science. Ecological Economics 10, 197–207.
  • Lawson, T., 2006. The nature of heterodox economics. Cambridge Journal of Economics 30, 483-505.
  • Georgescu-Roegen, N., 1975. Energy and Economic Myths. Southern Economic Journal 41, 347-381
  • Holling, C.S., 1986. The resilience of terrestrial ecosystems: local surprise and global change, in: Clark, W.C., Munn, R.E. (Eds.), Sustainable Development of the Biosphere. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 292-317 [CLS vol.4 chap.79].
  • Milbrath, L.W., 1993. Redefining the good life in a sustainable society. Environmental Values 2, 261-269.
Teaching methods
The main readings are based (1) around the first two volumes of the four volume collection: Spash, C.L., 2009. Ecological Economics: Critical Concepts in the Environment, 4 Volumes, Routledge Major Work. Routledge, London. (2) on the theories and approaches from energy analysts, in particular Robert Ayres, H.D. Odum and Charles Hall.
Assessment methods
Attendance is valued highly for this course, because we will try to build up a common knowledge base in order to have interesting debates. However for good reasons students can excuse themselves for a maximum of 3 sessions, subject to prior written notification of the tutor. In case these requirements are not met students will not receive a pass grade. The Readings are at the core of this course. Two papers will be allocated to each session and have to be read in advance. Readings will be discussed in class on a pre-set topic and the discussion initiated around some questions set the week before (or earlier). Students are expected to prepare their answers to these questions at home, to then be able to initiate and/or contribute to the debate. In order to set this debate off, students will be asked to get together in pairs and comment per email on each other’s responses. This interchange should be forwarded to the tutor before the class. Examples of questions and readings are provided below but these may still be adapted. Likewise students may also suggest related academic reading material or videos. A student led debate will be held at the end of the course where all students will be expected to participate in different ways (e.g. make short presentations, engage their opponents as a team, question from the floor). Essay Students are expected to write an essay on a topic of their choice, subject to previous approval and advice by the tutor. One meeting between the tutor and each student will be arranged in advance. Essays should be 1500 words long and must be submitted by email to the tutor no later than the 18th of May 2014 midnight. Late submissions will automatically be graded as a fail, although extensions may be granted under exceptional circumstances. Essays need to be written in English, typed in Times New Roman size 12 using 1 line spacing and justified paragraphs. References should be formatted according to the style of the Journal of Ecological Economics. The essay will also be graded on a pass/fail basis.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
The course is taught only once.
The course is also listed under the following terms Spring 2015.
  • Enrolment Statistics (Spring 2014, recent)
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